PDA

View Full Version : Arvaandor



Steel General
07-24-2008, 08:26 AM
OK here we go with another Elven city. Again this is more of an experiment to try things and see how they work.

Background - Arvaandor is the capital city of the Taydarin (Gray) Elves in my homebrew. It is intentionally designed to be circular as it is supposed to be the epitomy of elven architecture. From my Wiki site;

"Arvaandor is a city of beautiful crystal towers that seem to almost have been grown from the earth rather than built. The city lies on a designed island in the middle of the eri' Llaseen river. The area around the city is covered by beautifully kept farmland, and fenced in grazing areas. Most of the major noble houses maintain homes in the city, though many have villas located across the island.

Arvaandor is laid out in a series of concentric circles, with the royal palace located precisely in the center of the city. It is surrounded by various governmental offices and temples to Elvaara and the lost Seldarine. The city is surrounded by 30' walls of gleaming white-blue marble. Immense glassteel gates are set into cunningly designed gate houses on the north, east, and west sides. Beautiful parks and gardens occupy a sizeable ring within the city walls. There are also smaller parks and gardens amidst the temples and other larger buildings. A retractable dock/pier is located on the southern side."


Things I am happy with:
1) Terrain

2) Water

Things that need work/input:
1) Wall texture - I'd like "gleaming white/blue marble", just not quite sure to do it. So ideas/suggestions please.

2) General shape of roads - they are supposed to be concentric circles, I kept selecting the existing circle and contracting it. This does not work 100% correctly, though I'm not sure at this point whether its worth re-doing them. Next time I'll try something different.

3) The circle in the center is supposed to be a crytal tower/palace. Not quite sure how to get the effect I want from a top-down approach. So ideas/suggestions on this too please.

4) I could use some ideas/suggestions/examples for the bridges, so far I am drawing a blank on what to do for them.

As always C&C is appreciated.

SEE LATER POSTS FOR UPDATED IMAGES

Sigurd
07-24-2008, 12:01 PM
Town's got to be happy they exist in the age before the bomber! I'd be uneasy if I were the tower :)


SIgurd

Steel General
07-24-2008, 12:33 PM
*chuckles* Well they do have aerial troops, could give a whole new meaning to "crap shoot" :)

Ascension
07-24-2008, 05:35 PM
When I want my circles to be perfect I don't use selections, I use a brush. Start with something big and change the size accordingly then I just drop the brush size down and change color to black, drop down in size again and change to white...keep repeating until too small, I guess it has something to do with the way these programs handle the math behind the function that a circle ends up as a hexagon. Then I just delete the black. As for the bridges, it's kinda hard to get creative from top-down so just go pattern searching. The shadow is where you can give some hint of shape to your bridge, like arches and what not. This goes for the central tower as well, draw out a black shape that represents the side view of the object. Then skew, distort, blur etc.

Steel General
07-24-2008, 07:03 PM
When I want my circles to be perfect I don't use selections, I use a brush. Start with something big and change the size accordingly then I just drop the brush size down and change color to black, drop down in size again and change to white...keep repeating until too small, I guess it has something to do with the way these programs handle the math behind the function that a circle ends up as a hexagon. Then I just delete the black. As for the bridges, it's kinda hard to get creative from top-down so just go pattern searching. The shadow is where you can give some hint of shape to your bridge, like arches and what not. This goes for the central tower as well, draw out a black shape that represents the side view of the object. Then skew, distort, blur etc.

You know I thought of something similar...after the fact. Oh well, chalk it up to a learning experience. :)

I had some ideas for the bridges... putting them on a layer below the roads, but it's on my PC @ work and I didn't bring the file home.

Thanks for the suggestion about the shadows, I'll have to give that a try.

Redrobes
07-24-2008, 07:26 PM
For marble and in fact all my textures I would try

http://www.cgtextures.com/

they have 241 free marble textures to pick from - indexed by color no less.

For the tower I would try a 3D app and create something real rough. Export to 2D and touch up / add effects. Some sparkle might do the trick.

Steel General
07-24-2008, 08:20 PM
Thanks, I bookmarked that site. I'll take a look tomorrow.

Unfortunately I don't have an 3D apps, though I suppose I could give Sketch-Up a try.

RobA
07-24-2008, 10:52 PM
When I want my circles to be perfect I don't use selections, I use a brush. Start with something big and change the size accordingly then I just drop the brush size down and change color to black, drop down in size again and change to white...keep repeating until too small, I guess it has something to do with the way these programs handle the math behind the function that a circle ends up as a hexagon. Then I just delete the black. A

Or use a vector program (like inkscape) :P

-Rob A>

Ascension
07-24-2008, 10:57 PM
Sketch Up is pretty cool, Ive done about 4 towers in it just playing around and 2 farmsteads and a stonehenge. It really gives ya an idea as to how shadows appear if ya play around on the lil calendar thing (can't remember what it's actually called but it sets the sun according to month and time of day). Just one thing to keep in mind though is that when making curved surfaces, like a round tower, it really chews up memory and file size. I have one tower at 40 megs and a whole farmstead at 12.

landorl
07-25-2008, 11:06 AM
The roads also seem to get wider as they get closer to the palace. Also, I don't know how you planned on laying out the houses, but as close together as the roads are, you will only get one good size house between them (Assuming that they will have some sort of a garden area).

If you were to make the roads narrower, then you could increase the scale of the map, and still be able to get a lot more homes between the roads.

Of course, if you planning it that way, then disregard.;)

Steel General
07-25-2008, 02:14 PM
OK, so here's an update...

I completely re-did the walls, roads and added bridges. I think they are much better now, though the bridges probably still need some work and the walls are kind of jagged when you zoom in to full resolution. I'm sure there's a way to fix it, but I don't yet no how.

Found a bunch of stuff on the Dundjinni forums (thank you to whoever it was that suggested that). While I still haven't figured out the whole crystal tower thing yet, I substituted a glass/crystal dome. I also added some other detail like trees, a building, a fountain, and a dragon statue.

Overall I think it is starting to look like I had hoped.

SEE LATER POSTS FOR UPDATED IMAGES

jfrazierjr
07-25-2008, 02:25 PM
Found a bunch of stuff on the Dundjinni forums (thank you to whoever it was that suggested that). While I still haven't figured out the whole crystal tower thing yet, I substituted a glass/crystal dome. I also added some other detail like trees, a building, a fountain, and a dragon statue.

Overall I think it is starting to look like I had hoped.

On a side note, thought I don't know how well it would work in practice (ie, how hard to make it look right in an image), from a concept point of view, having a whole city inside a huge dome would be really cool...

RobA
07-25-2008, 02:56 PM
How about something like this for the tower:
5473

-Rob A>

Steel General
07-25-2008, 03:13 PM
I like it Rob, looks much better. I tried putting a shadow on mine, but it looked "funky" so I got rid of it.

So how exactly did you create it?

RobA
07-25-2008, 04:08 PM
I cut the dome out (I assume is a separate layer in your file) and rotated it so the lighting matched your map (NE). On a layer below, I drew a white circle around it to make the tower. Applied a slight radial gradient to it to it was darker at the bottom (outside) than the top (inside).

One more layer for the shadow, I used the pen tool to draw a bezier path like this:
5476

Then I used the last technique in this post (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2016) to create a variable blur, and dialed the opacity down.

So layers are:
-dome
-shadow
-tower
-ground

Steel General
07-25-2008, 04:14 PM
Cool! Thanks, I'll give that try when I'm back at my office PC on monday.

Ascension
07-25-2008, 05:08 PM
That dome is so cool, I've been wanting to do an elven city with this dome but never gotten around to it yet, maybe I'll just steal, er borrow, your map when done ;)

Steel General
07-25-2008, 08:19 PM
That dome is so cool, I've been wanting to do an elven city with this dome but never gotten around to it yet, maybe I'll just steal, er borrow, your map when done ;)

I'll be sure to "look the other way" if you do 'pilfer' it. :D

Steel General
07-28-2008, 02:58 PM
Ok, here is a minor update for this one, I added a shadow to the main tower (thanks RobA :) - Not exactly the way you did it, but I'm using PS) and added a couple of other buildings as well as finished added the trees to the 'garden' ring.

SEE LATER POSTS FOR UPDATED IMAGES

Redstar
07-28-2008, 05:22 PM
Ok, here is a minor update for this one, I added a shadow to the main tower (thanks RobA :) - Not exactly the way you did it, but I'm using PS) and added a couple of other buildings as well as finished added the trees to the 'garden' ring.

This is starting to look really good. I love the super-realism detail in the water, coast and buildings. I think for the scale it's do-able, and this is going to be a great example.

Just real fast on the PS vs. GIMP: at the bottom of Rob-A's tutorial there is a link and explanation of how to do the same with with a feathered mask in PS, so no excuses ;)

On scale: that is a HUGE tower. Based on the width of the trees (presuming 20ft diameter of foliage) the shadow of the tower is about 500ft, or about half as tall as the empire state building. I'm stating this just to help out with scale, cause i think a HUGE tower in the center of the city is pretty dang sweet :)

mathuwm
07-28-2008, 06:49 PM
Looking good!

it is obviously not a Wood Ellves city.
The layout is too formal for that maybe High Elves

I think it could use more formal garden elements

Hedge row mazes incorporating elvish designs
Reflecting pools
Topiaries
Trees glorious trees(can never have too many trees when comes to elves)

Steel General
07-28-2008, 07:55 PM
Thanks guys...I'm pretty happy with it so far, just having a hard time with the buildings. The city doesn't have a huge population, its mostly just royalty, nobility, high-ranking priests, mages and government flunkies (err officials).

@mathuwm - You are correct sir! Not a Wood Elves city, think more like Tolkein elves at the height of their power. Big time sailors and navigators.

I haven't been able to make (yet) or find any flower gardens, topiaries, etc. But this is a long way from being complete, so I'm still looking.

@Redstar - The tower is about 250 at its base (assuming my 1pxl/foot scale) and I'm not sure how tall I intended it to be - probably 300', so the shadow may be a bit over stated...Any shadow geometry geniuses out there? :)

Ascension
07-28-2008, 09:07 PM
If you want your tower to be 300 feet tall, make a new document (clear background) that is 300 pixels in height. Use a black pencil and draw a side view of what the tower looks like...you don't necessarily have to draw every hanging turret or flying buttress but if it's pointy at the top then make sure to draw the roof pretty correctly. Also make sure to get any bulges in there at the right places. When done, copy it over into the main map and use edit > transform > scale or distort or skew or whatever to lengthen the shadow to however long you want it to account for the sun's position in the sky and lastly (optionally) give it a lil blur and drop the opacity.

Steel General
07-29-2008, 07:28 AM
Thanks, I'll have to give that a try and see how it goes.

RobA
07-29-2008, 02:13 PM
One more comment :P I made the "mistake" of a blurred shadow, as it seems to be the convention used in maps like this. In reality, shadows of earth connected objects are quite sharp.

Here is a photo of the shadow cast by the observation deck of the CN tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (thanks google maps):
5550

Note that this is the shadow of the observation deck at 1,122ft. The shadow fringe is barely the width of a car (6 ft or so).

-Rob A>

Steel General
07-29-2008, 03:07 PM
@Ascension - As always thanks for the tip

@RobA - Thanks for the reference image...I need to redo the shadow, I messed it up a bit to day.

OK, so on to today's update;

1) Added hedge mazes (with statues) and reflecting pools (with some trees)
2) Added Temple of Elvaara (w/Unicorn Statue)
3) Added guard houses and some other buildings
4) Added 4 crystal towers (not sure I'm entirely happy with these)
5) Added more fountains to 'park' ring
6) Screwed up shadow on palace tower (shouldn't be hard to correct though)

SEE LATER POSTS FOR UPDATED IMAGES

landorl
07-29-2008, 04:07 PM
This map is looking great! One thing that kind of grabbed my attention was the city walls and towers. Since you are using highly detailed buildings, it kind of makes the fortifications look like they are just bland, white representations. You might want to see if you can do the towers separate from the walls, and add drop shadows to both to give them a sense of depth.

ravells
07-29-2008, 04:23 PM
This is looking fantastic! How did you do the shrubbery? It's really effective.

Ascension
07-29-2008, 05:09 PM
The 4 crystal towers (look like beveled squares at each of the 4 compass points around the central tower) could be turned into obelisks with a long shadow and that might be kinda cool. The only thing tugging my brain is the scale...either it's truly gargantuan or this is more of a central park with the main city's buildings lying outside the river, but otherwise well done. Doh, NM, the towers are the big round thingies, my bad.

Steel General
07-29-2008, 06:23 PM
Thank you all...

@landorl - After looking at I again, I agree with you the walls need some work. Those are not really towers - not sure of the actual term here - but they are a sort of emplacement that bulges out from the wall near the top.

@ravells - The hedge mazes... Ifound a simple maze image and brought it into PS, traced the 'walls' with a bright color (yellow) solid brush of 5 pxls (adjust depending on your scale) then selected the yellow, inversed and deleted everything else. Dragged it onto a layer in my image and applied a pattern overlay, some noise and a gaussian blur (again subject to your scale), Voila - Shrubberies!!!!

@Ascension - The scale is 1pxl = 1 foot @ 100 pixels/inch (map size is 3000x3000 pxls)

RobA
07-29-2008, 07:38 PM
Can you distort the hedge mazes and the pools so they follow the curves and aren't rectangles? I think anyone who build a round city would go so far with the decorative elements in it...

-Rob A>

Steel General
07-29-2008, 08:39 PM
Can you distort the hedge mazes and the pools so they follow the curves and aren't rectangles? I think anyone who build a round city would go so far with the decorative elements in it...

-Rob A>

I tried to distort the hedge mazes, but I could never get them to look good (at least not to me) - I'll have to give it another shot.

Ascension
07-29-2008, 09:52 PM
In order to do so, you will probably have to use the pen tool and make a path, sort of like tracing parts and estimating other parts. There is another way, much longer, but with a more precise end result...use that big ole round brush in decreasing steps to produce a series of rings, then make a series of lines radiating out from the center. This should leave you with a circular grid so then just go back and erase the parts that need erasing to make the maze. Third way is to just find some circular mazes and scan em in and resize em :)

mathuwm
07-29-2008, 09:59 PM
5568

5569

5570you could distort it in one of the many vector programs out there

Ilustrator for sure

mabey inkscape

RobA
07-29-2008, 11:13 PM
If you put it in a large enough canvas you should be able to run it through a polar map to get it bent. I tried it in gimp and got acceptable results.

-Rob A>

Steel General
07-30-2008, 07:40 AM
OK, thanks guys...I'll try and play around with it some today and see what happens.

NeonKnight
07-30-2008, 07:50 AM
I am liking this map. Reminds me of a city map I envisioned for my old campaign world around 1980 or so.

The Cartographist
07-30-2008, 11:25 AM
There has got to be something cliched about a city map that NK was thinking about back in 1980. I just can't quite put my finger on it...

Steel General
07-30-2008, 03:19 PM
OK here's todays update...

1) Adjusted the pattern overlay on the walls and bridges
2) Tried to give the walls a little more definition (I think I succeeded :D)
3) Added the Nar'Quessil (Tower of Enchantment)
4) Redid the reflecting pools and moved them to the 2nd circle
5) Moved the hedge mazes to the 2nd circle and added some different trees
6) Moved buildings from 2nd to 3rd circle
7) Added glows to "crystal towers"
8) Added the 'floating' temple of the Seldarine
9) Some clean up of 'artifacts'

I think that's it.

SEE LATER POSTS FOR UPDATED IMAGES

Ascension
07-30-2008, 05:00 PM
This is looking pretty good, just the style I like too, hey, what's that over there? (swipe) huh thought I saw something.

Steel General
07-30-2008, 05:14 PM
Maybe I'll even get it finished one of these days :D

jfrazierjr
07-30-2008, 05:28 PM
If I am reading right, I agree with the other posters, the hedge maze needs to be not square and follow the contours of the area just like your pools do to look right.

Steel General
07-30-2008, 07:08 PM
If I am reading right, I agree with the other posters, the hedge maze needs to be not square and follow the contours of the area just like your pools do to look right.

Yup, I agree...just haven't had much luck "distorting" them, the pools took me a while as it was. I'll keep plugging away at it though.

NeonKnight
07-30-2008, 07:28 PM
There has got to be something cliched about a city map that NK was thinking about back in 1980. I just can't quite put my finger on it...

It reminds me of this map:

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=6713&postcount=2

RobA
07-31-2008, 08:57 AM
If you post up a full size B&W of the mazes I can distort them and fire them back to you.

-Rob A>

Steel General
07-31-2008, 01:14 PM
If you post up a full size B&W of the mazes I can distort them and fire them back to you.

-Rob A>

OK, here you go, the original is not of the greatest quality. 'You can crop off the compass rose'
and leave out the box in the center.

Thanks this is much appreciated :), I was beyond frustration trying to get this to work.

landorl
07-31-2008, 10:14 PM
The walls are looking great now!

Steel General
08-01-2008, 08:20 AM
The walls are looking great now!

Thanks...its really starting to come around. I have some more updates to post (maybe today), I've added a lot of the noble families "houses" in the outer ring as well as some other structures.

RobA
08-01-2008, 10:37 AM
OK, here you go, the original is not of the greatest quality. 'You can crop off the compass rose'
and leave out the box in the center.

Thanks this is much appreciated :), I was beyond frustration trying to get this to work.

That was actually harder than I thought, as the section you want filled isn't a real arc section!

This is the best I could manage -

5622

FYI, the way I did this was :
- start with a square section of your map holding the fountain and maze area, centered on the circular roads.
- mark one area the maze should fill (inset from the roads by an equal space around) as solid blocks.
- run a polar-rectangular conversion, then scale the result be 4 horizontally.
- fit the maze to the areas using scaling, and curve bends.
- run rectangular-polar on the distorted maze.

-Rob A>

Steel General
08-01-2008, 03:00 PM
@RobA - Thanks a bunch! That is way better than anything I had managed. I'll add that into the next update after what I got done today.

Speaking of today's update here we go...I think I'm hitting a bit of a "idea wall", not really sure what else needs to/should be added. I don't want to pack the city full of buildings. Though I suppose I can put some more trees in the 'rings' with the buildings to help break it up a bit, and I probably need 'paths' from the roads to the individual buildings. Ideas and suggestions please...

I purposely have the buildings in the outside ring all different kinds of styles...trying to show the diversity in the family's that own them.

Ascension
08-01-2008, 04:16 PM
Love the lil sculpted hedges, sorta reminds me of some of those crop circle designs. Good job.

Steel General
08-01-2008, 05:13 PM
Love the lil sculpted hedges, sorta reminds me of some of those crop circle designs. Good job.

Thanks... I found a bunch of tolkien language and alchemy symbols on the Dunjinni forums that someone created, just dropped a couple of those on there with some shadowing and a pattern overlay. I may add more for each building in that inner ring.

Steel General
08-04-2008, 03:05 PM
Allrighty folks, I think I've taken this as far as I care to - beginning to suffer "burn out" on it. So unless someone finds some god-awful, glaring fault with it, I'm going to call it done.

Made quite a few changes since the last update:

1) Added 'curved' hedge mazes - thanks RobA! :)
2) Rearranged buildings, etc. on innermost circle for appearance
3) Added roads/paths leading to buildings
4a) Discarded the idea of each noble house being distinct
4b) Added ring of identical towers with glowing 'family rune' on the roof
5) Added more 'grass sculptures'
6) Added more trees to other rings to help break up the 'emptiness'
7) Added a boat that is 'just leaving the dock'

I think that's about it.

Thanks to all who gave their opinions, ideas, assistance, etc. It may not exactly meet my original vision, but I am happy with it none-the-less.

Ascension
08-04-2008, 06:36 PM
Those hedge-mazes look killer now and the trees are sweet as well. All the similarly shaped buildings lends to the idea that this is some sort of governmental or bureaucratic section of a larger city (possibly a center for various schools of magic). I know the amount of effort that goes into making maps this way since I do it much the same way so kudos to you for sticking with it. Hey I know that longboat, I made a brush out of it (loves me some Dunjinni forums). All in all about the only thing I would have tweaked is the rocky bits around the edge of the lake but to each their own. Good job, now take a break and play a game in order to recharge the batteries (I played Civ 4 Fall From Heaven all day Sunday). For your next challenge map out some slums and merchant districts to go around this city-center, heh heh ;)

Steel General
08-04-2008, 07:38 PM
Those hedge-mazes look killer now and the trees are sweet as well. All the similarly shaped buildings lends to the idea that this is some sort of governmental or bureaucratic section of a larger city (possibly a center for various schools of magic). I know the amount of effort that goes into making maps this way since I do it much the same way so kudos to you for sticking with it. Hey I know that longboat, I made a brush out of it (loves me some Dunjinni forums). All in all about the only thing I would have tweaked is the rocky bits around the edge of the lake but to each their own. Good job, now take a break and play a game in order to recharge the batteries (I played Civ 4 Fall From Heaven all day Sunday). For your next challenge map out some slums and merchant districts to go around this city-center, heh heh ;)

Thanks...yup you guessed it, the longboat is "swiped" from the Dunjinni forums (what a goldmine they are...I'm still going thru the forums downloading files). I think I see what you mean by about the rocky edges, they look a little "uniform". Maybe I'll tweak them, depends how ambitious (or bored) I get. Got some other ideas floating around in this cesspool of a brain that are itching to come out, plus I still have my Dwarf-Hold to finish.

RobA
08-10-2008, 09:24 AM
Nice job - looks great!

Glad you could use the bent and twisted mazes :P

-Rob A>

Steel General
08-10-2008, 10:06 AM
Again my thanks Rob! You may see those hedge mazes show up again some day. :D